Tuesday, June 28, 2011

9/11 and Atheist Activism

I have met more than one atheist who became more open about their atheism because of 9/11. I wasn't shy about telling people I was an atheist, but I didn't read books on it or go to meetups or websites until 9/11.  Afterward, I found the Bush Administration's reference to the Crusades and to religious reasons for fighting back very ironic.  They didn't dial back their religiosity at all in the face of that negative example of what religion can do.  They actually upped it, but not the country.  I think turning to prayer to overcome other people who turn to prayer had to stick in the craw of at least a few believers.

Anywho, I discovered this video in which Sam Harris talks about how he was affected too:


Infidel753 said...

It is rather striking that the number of non-religious people in the US has doubled in the last ten years, and atheism now has a much higher profile. I think the lion's share of the credit goes to the "new atheists" and their more aggressive approach. But the fact that religion is increasingly showing its most repulsive face must have contributed as well. There's the strident gay-bashing and intolerance from the Christian Right; but, yes, there was September 11 as well, and the successive Muslim terrorist outrages like Beslan, Bali, etc.

It's created a dynamic where (a) the broad mass of Americans are thoroughly alarmed and repulsed by Islamic terrorism, and (b) the similarities between hard-line Islam and our own Christian Right are increasingly apparent.

Why would someone as conspicuously devoid of personal grievances or psychological dysfunction as Osama bin Laden -- who is neither poor, uneducated, delusional, nor a prior victim of Western aggression -- devote himself to cave-dwelling machinations with the intention of killing innumerable men, women, and children he has never met? The answer to this question is obvious -- if only because it has been patiently articulated ad nauseam by bin Laden himself. The answer is that men like bin Laden actually believe what they say they believe. They believe in the literal truth of the Koran. Why did nineteen well-educated, middle-class men trade their lives in this world for the privilege of killing thousands of our neighbors? Because they believed they would go straight to paradise for doing so. It is rare to find the behavior of human beings so fully and satisfactorily explained. Why have we been reluctant to accept this explanation?

Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation

Robert the Skeptic said...

What always has struck me about all religions is how they profess to be about love, equality, charity... yet their proponents will lash out in hate and anger if you do not agree with them or challenge them.

LadyAtheist said...

I've noticed that. They're very loving until things don't go their way.

cl said...

They didn't dial back their religiosity at all in the face of that negative example of what religion can do.

You conflate religion with violent extremism.

B.R. said...

There is little conflation to be made, cl. Religion is responsible for some terrible things, and the bible supports a lot of them, depending on which parts you read.